A tribute to the Spotify playlist entitled “Songs That Never Fail To Make White People Beyond Turnt”
Vietnamese music makes my mother melancholy so instead of Paris by Night, my dad plays Billy Joel. In seatbelts we belt oh sing us a song and the Piano Man
joins us on the road. Oh, anthems of Americanization: If we opened the windows maybe then we could convince them that we’ve been in this country for centuries.
When I was young, I made up for the whiteness I’d missed by listening to the bands they liked. And as it turned out, I knew them already, from the elevator jingles to the school bus
radio, from Target to town square; the white people music I’d nodded along to in the library, in free periods and pep rallies with my friends. Congrats, white people--
your music makes us ‘beyond turnt’, bunch of immigrants’ kids brought together by The Dream, singing away languages unlearnt.
In Maryland I listened to Vietnamese rap in attempt to track down my heritage. In Vietnam I listened to ABBA and Ariana Grande as if homesick for assimilation;
they say that airports are liminal spaces. I live in a suitcase where Adidas and áo dài lie folded together, đồng waiting to exchange into dollars at the next ATM.
I know a boy whose music taste stretches beyond the seven seas. If you peeled the Earth like a clementine and spread its skin across his Spotify playlists there would still
be room to spare; pull up your favorites to compare and I guarantee that you’ll find them on his map. I’ve thumb-tacked the songs that make me nostalgic for our friendship:
mostly Queen, voice falling in without fail when Freddie Mercury sings. Two brown boys on opposite sides of the century, supersonic, burning, unstoppable.
Caroline Dinh is a high school senior from Rockville, Maryland. She chiefly writes speculative prose and oddly-structured poems, and aside from writing, enjoys painting, programming, and proving that STEM and the arts aren't mutually exclusive. You can find her on Instagram or Twitter @tealishblues.